chicago marketing agencySocial media is one of the most important business communication developments in a long time, but it’s also one of the biggest sources of distraction and is often a time suck for otherwise productive business owners.

Learning to manage your own social networking time will help you leverage all those great benefits and help you get rid of those unwanted side effects.

Here are some tips to get you going…

Know What You Want to Do

chicago marketing agencyBefore you log into another social network, make sure you have a very clear idea of what you want to accomplish with your social networking participation. While you should know where you’re going before you go there in all aspects of your life, it’s even more important on social media because it’s just too easy to get distracted. Whether it’s political stuff that gets you all fired up or a funny meme of a cat saying something hilarious, we’ve all been there.

I’m also talking about knowing what you want to accomplish on a large and small scale.

You should know what you want over the long term (ex. expand your reach, get more loyalty from your audience, etc.) and what you want to do on a daily basis (ex. respond to comments, post a new video). Whether you use paper and pen, mind map software or voice memos to yourself to plan, record your ideas, so you have a rock solid plan for what you hope to do.

Limit the Networks You’re Involved In

Too many business owners try to be everywhere at once. It’s a recipe for burnout and it isn’t likely going to grow your business because you won’t have time to work on your actual business. It’s important to select only a handful of key social networks and if you’re just getting started with social networking, simply start with one network and move from there.

Of course, finding out what works best for your business will take some experimentation. Just don’t rush to do everything at once because you need to dedicate the appropriate time and effort to seeing what produces the most benefit.

Finish Other Tasks First

On a daily basis, work on your core business tasks first and then try saving social networking for the end of the day. That way, you can ensure everything that needs to get done gets done. This strategy also allows you to do more exploration on social networking so you can find new people to follow, interesting information and more.

Carve Out Your Time

Know how much time you are going to spend and what you’re going to do before you log into any of your accounts. Setting a limit is important, particularly if you have other business tasks or personal things to attend to when you’re done. Making sure you have your tasks outlined also helps you stay on track…instead of following that link to a YouTube video of an amazing 5 year old opera singer.

And always remember, when you log in…serve your audience first. You can’t go wrong by focusing on your audience.

Have a Notification Strategy

chicago marketing agencyThere’s nothing more detrimental to productivity than being interrupted all day long with emails telling you about new retweets, likes and comments. You can limit these interruptions in a few ways:

– Turn notifications off completely. Rarely, is there a social media emergency and if you’re already checking in regularly, you don’t really need to get an email notification for everything.

– Some networks, like Pinterest, allow you to get a daily digest of notifications, instead of receiving an individual notification of each update.

– Don’t send the notifications to your main email address. Choose an address you check less frequently, so you aren’t constantly distracted by the new updates.

Keep Your Business and Personal Accounts Separate

While you may share some personal information on your business accounts, it’s easiest if you keep your business social networking activities separate from your personal ones. There are actually a few benefits to this.

The first is eliminating distractions. So if Aunt June sends you a private message and your friend Steve post a funny picture of his toddler, you won’t distracted from your to-do list.

Keeping things separate also helps you stay informed about your niche and makes it easy for you to be a useful for source of information for your readers. So follow personal connections on your personal accounts and follow industry leaders and information providers on your business accounts. That way, your news feeds will be relevant to what you are working on.

And finally, it makes you more relevant to your followers. Many online business owners broadcast business related information to their friends and family when it doesn’t really make sense. And the reverse problem is true. If you’re posting a lot of personal information, it may or may not be of interest to your business followers. You can avoid this, by separating your social media activities.

Get Help

There’s no reason you have to do all your social networking yourself. Even if you’re a solo entrepreneur, you can build a team or have someone alongside to help you. You can have someone help you with:

– Posting updates
– Scheduling updates you’ve prewritten
– Creating and collecting images and other useful content you’d like to share

Building a team that represents your brand puts a lot of pressure of your and allows you to focus more on strategy and business building.

Use Tools

chicago marketing agencyWe are going to talk about various tools that can help you in a later post, but there are plenty of tools that can help you schedule updates, allow you to view your various network streams in one place, compile analytics for you and more. These are very useful tools to ensure you keep tabs on your interactions, allow you to participate more efficiently and can help you rework your strategy for maximum effectiveness.